Homeowners band together to fight increased property taxes
While New Westminster, B.C.'s residential property assessments went up by more than 9 per cent overall, some homeowners have been hit with a much higher increase.
James Crosty, a local citizen advocate, saw the assessed value of his condo increase by a whopping 52 per cent, prompting him to reach out to neighbours and band together to appeal their assessments.
You might want to do the same.
Keep in mind that it's one thing to explode over an unexpected jump in your bill and quite another to crawl through the labyrinth of assessment procedures -- most of which vary sharply among provinces, and even from city to city.
Whether you decide to cry solo or enlist an advocate's help, the process is essentially the same: Establish that you really have been over assessed, file a grievance, argue your case before the local assessment board and, if you're still feeling put upon, launch an appeal before some sort of tribunal.
How much information is available varies depending on the jurisdiction, but in general, residents of large metropolitan areas — and residents anywhere in Ontario — have access to municipal databases that reveal a wealth of historic sale prices and current assessment values.
In Toronto, for example, homeowners can go to the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation website and scroll over an interactive map, which provides information on 200 nearby properties.
Once you’ve marshalled your facts, you pay $75 for a formal hearing about the reassessment. Before that happens though, you're encouraged to contact the MPAC and try to resolve things more informally.
Deadlines, along with the appeals process, will vary across the country – in Ontario, for instance, it's March 31 -- and so does the amount of time permitted for an appeal.
Do you plan on questioning your property assessment? Do you know anyone who has?
By Gordon Powers, MSN Money